UMSOD Pilot Program Offers Oral Health Care to Veterans with Blood Cancers

January 17, 2024    |  

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD), in collaboration with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), is launching a pilot program this month to provide veterans diagnosed with blood cancers with dental financial assistance.

Robert Windsor, DDS, FICD, FACD, director of UMSOD’s Clinical Operations Division of General Dentistry

Robert Windsor, DDS, FICD, FACD, director of UMSOD’s Clinical Operations Division of General Dentistry

The LLS has funded a pilot program that will help UMSOD provide critical dental services to about 40 veterans over the next year. Veterans who are diagnosed with a blood cancer and require dental services either to begin cancer treatment or as a side effect of their treatment, will be eligible for financial assistance to cover dental services ordered by a health care provider. Services covered include endodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, orthodontics, or implants.

“I am glad that UMSOD will be able to provide these much-needed dental services to U.S. veterans — particularly at a time when they already are dealing with other complex health issues,” said Robert Windsor, DDS, FICD, FACD, director of UMSOD’s Clinical Operations Division of General Dentistry. “It’s care that veterans surely deserve and provides another way of acknowledging their service to the country.”  

Nationwide, more than 1.6 million people are living with or in remission from blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, or myelodysplastic syndromes, according to the LLS. Blood cancers affect the bone marrow, blood cells, lymph nodes, and other parts of the lymphatic system.

During chemotherapy, oral infection can result in transient or sustained bacteremia that can result in sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection.

Additionally, cancer patients who undergo treatment are at elevated risk for dental complications that include sores in the mouth, bleeding, tooth decay, and gum disease.

“By partnering with the LLS, we will be able to provide critical dental care to patients before, during, and after cancer treatment as well as better prepare our graduates to help reduce the incidence and severity of adverse oral effects of cancer therapy.,” said Mark A. Reynolds, UMSOD dean and professor.

Veterans will be referred to the School of Dentistry by the LLS or health providers. UMSOD pre-doctoral students will screen each patient and, under faculty guidance, prepare treatment plans and care. Patients may also be referred to UMSOD’s Advanced Specialty Resident Programs for more complex treatment.

As part of this program, the LLS also collaborates with three other dental schools at sites throughout the country: the New York University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

“I’m grateful for the support from LLS of this important pilot program at UMSOD,” Windsor says. “It not only offers valuable and needed services to our veterans, but it also provides opportunities for our third- and fourth-year dental students to gain experience working with patients who have myriad and complex medical needs.”

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